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MCHS to reduce special education services from co-op

Morris Community High School will again decrease the services it uses from the Grundy County Special Education Cooperative in order to save money.

The Morris Community High School District 101 board unanimously approved Monday sending a letter to the co-op informing it of the district’s intention to decentralize its special education coordinator and social worker positions, Superintendent Pat Halloran said Wednesday.

This is part of the district’s reduction strategy, he said. Measures have to be taken because of the declining equalized assessed values of local property – which means the amount of taxes local school districts receive decreases as well.

“Our EAV is down 7 percent and we expect another 5 percent decrease for the next fiscal year,” Halloran said.

This is in addition to the state prorating its state aid payments.

In fiscal year 2013, the district received one of the two categorical payments the state has owed it, according to the financial report the board was given by PMA Financial Network.

In the education fund, Morris High is looking at a decrease of $350,000 to $400,000 annually.

The plan is for the district to internally hire its own special education coordinator and hire out for a special education social worker.

Last year the district hired its own teachers for special education and decentralized those services from the co-op. Now it will take one of those teachers, reduce the teaching time and give him or her coordinator duties.

Currently Morris High’s special education teachers are handled by a coordinator at the co-op who evaluates them and does other supervisory duties.

The district now will work on a job description for the coordinator position that will be the Dean of Special Populations.

“Our special education student numbers are declining, so we require less staff, therefore we feel we can fill [the coordinator] position internally,” Halloran said.

By hiring internally the district will save about $40,000. By hiring its own social worker the district will break even with the cost by using the coop for this position.

The high school will continue to receive low-incident services through the co-op, Halloran said, such as autism, behavior and REACH programs.

In 2011 the district decentralized its teaching staff from the co-op and hired seven educators because the district could hire its own at less cost.

Decentralizing started happening in the area about five years ago when Coal City was the first to take such action.

Most the districts have decentralized their special education teachers. But all of the county’s districts still receive some services from the co-op, such as the low-incident programs.

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